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Author:  Anonymous Medzilla Reader
Date:  03-03-07 09:52am
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I have had several interviews with device companies since graduating last May, and keep running into the same problem. I continue doing very well and making it to the final 2 candidates. The last 3 companies that I made it this far with, all chose the male candidate over me in the end. Is this just a crazy coincidence or are device companies more apt to hire male candidates for device positions when it is down to the final two. At my last device interview I was told that he thought I was better suited for pharma. sales because "pharmaceuticals are sexy" and he was worried this job wouldn't be "sexy enough" for me (his words). Although he told me that I was more than qualified and interviewed wonderfully. The job before that chose the male candidate as well, even though he (hiring manager) told me we were equally qualified. Since I do not want to create controversy (I just want a job!) can anyone give me any helpful tips on how to combat this type of problem? I have been killing myself trying to get into a company, and one year later, despite making it to the final 2 several times, am still without a job in this field.

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  Author: Abdulah Dec 27, 2007, 04:45AM
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   In order to get into Pharma or Device sales you need to have some achievements in sales which means you need some kind of job selling something to start out. I mentored a beautiful and bright young since she was in college. She has great grades and dynamite personality and got a job with a big pharma company in medical information but wasnt able to transfer to sales. Finally, she listened to me and moved out of her parents house, got an appt and took a sales job not in pharma for 1.5 years. She was successful and was offered a promotion but still wanted pharma sostarted applying after 1.5 outside sales experience and landed a job in 6 weeks. She has been very successful in pharma. Try to get a sales job in office products, insurance (which is hard), financial sales, payroll services, personell services etc. The skills you learn in that job - handling rejection, cold calling, trial closing, expense reporting, call planning, communication will get you into pharma or devices because the skills are transferrable. Take the sales job with an objective of pharma in two years, dowell and you'll get a position. The pharma business is downsizing right now so there are lots of qualified unemployed pharma reps looking for work. The good part for a new rep with Business to Business sales skills is that you command an entry level salary compared to an experienced rep plus you dont bring bad habits fromanother pharma job and can be coached by your manager. Dont worry about being a woman. You dont want to be another Barbie or Hooters girl pharma rep. Dress professionally ( no cleavage), articulate and sell your accomplishments. Good luck
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Jan 02, 2008, 07:57AM
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   remember there are 3 sides to EVERY story - yours, his, and the truth.

I agree with the last poster.. be conservative and well-put together. Speak well. AND LISTEN.

I have always gone with a pant suit, granted heeels that are closer to 3" but TAILORED pumps and quite frankly, no cleavage -- AT ALL. A simple necklace, 2 rings (one on each hand) .. and stud small single gem earings. The key -- TASTEFUL and conservative. Again , like the last poster.. dont give them a reasn to remember you for the WRONG reason.
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Dec 26, 2007, 10:56AM
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   dear anonymous, get a clue! When is the last time you saw a short, fat, old, ugly, pharma rep?
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Dec 23, 2007, 10:18AM
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   Blah, blah, blah. Discrimination? We're talking about an interview here. Try to prove in a court of law that you didn't get the job because you are female. That is just laughable. This is the world we live in.

Present yourself as a viable candidate and you won't be discriminated against. Young, old, black, white, male, female, plain, attractive, skinny, chubby, short, or tall. What they are looking for are qualities like personable, well-kept, articulate, intelligent, professional, trust-worthy and responsive.

Ladies: Foundation, medium colored lipstick and mascara should be all that you need. Pull your hair back if you can. No cleavage. No heals over 1 inch. Dark pant suit. Light colored cami - no lace or sequence. No jewelry. No perfume - no scented body wash or scented lotion.

In an interview, you want them to listen to what you are saying rather than being distracted by your looks. You want them to see that you present yourself well - just being cute will keep you in the entry level primary care market year after year!

There are so many perks to working within this industry ... don't blow your shot by being naive.
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Mar 15, 2007, 07:36PM
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   Thanks for the advice. Let's hope it works.

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  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Mar 16, 2007, 09:32AM
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   You are correct, there is a bias all be it Illegal, Pharm used to hire more men to sell the products, now they want to get the male doctor's attention with I have to say this
"Barbies and Stepford wives". My husband works in the Medical Field and that is all he saw come through the door for Pharma was Barbies and Stepford Wives.

  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Mar 15, 2007, 08:36AM
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   Since it is illegal, but (I agree with you that if you brought it to anyone's attention then your job application would probably go down the tubes) you can't say anything about it, then I would suggest that you lie. Tell them what they want to hear, anything (my kids are geniuses and support themselves, my husband is a stay at home dad and I also have a mother in law there too for backup, etc.). Paint the most rosy picture possible. It most certainly is illegal for them to inquire about this, but I think the only way for you to combat it is to lie and tell them exactly what they want to hear. If you get the job, I doubt they'll be checking your family situation against what you stated in your job interview. If so, then at least you're in the job and you have a better basis for utilizing discrimination if necessary.
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Mar 14, 2007, 08:09PM
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   Of course it is illegal. However, if you call the hiring manager on it, or tell them it is illegal, you will not get a call back and no one will admit that is the true reason you are no longer in contention for the job. Short of tape recording interviews, what advice do you have on how to deal with this?
  Author: past manager Mar 13, 2007, 07:27AM
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   It is illegal for them to ask you about your family situation. That is a basis for a discrimination law suit.
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Mar 11, 2007, 08:08PM
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   I, too, have had similar experiences interviewing for med sales positions. I have 2 small children and the employers (a few different companies) drilled me for about 10 min about my child care situation, nannies, working hubby, etc. during my interviews. However, my husband is also in medical sales and he was NEVER asked about our children. Needless to say, he's working and I'm not. Unfortunately, being female and of child-bearing age is a liability.

Secondly, I spent 8 years in pharma. While it is more "sexy" so to speak, it does have it's drawbacks. There are tons of female reps in pharma, it is a good life for a young female professional, but when you apply for promotions, again, the child thing is a liability. Only you can decide what is best for you and if you pursue medical sales, you WILL find the right job...someday! Good luck.

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  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Dec 12, 2007, 08:42AM
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   For the men/women debate on medical sales. Medical devices is more of a knowledge based clinical sale. In pharma, you can be attractive get the dr.s attention, get the singature and go. I have actuallly been told in an interview that they are more inclined to hire men. This is bc they take rejection better and they feel they dont rely on their looks to get the sale. Its a fact of life, play down your looks and up your clinical knowledge if you want to get the job in device. AND SERIOUSLY if someone ever makes a gender based comment and told me to go into pharma, I would walk out! Dont EVER let someone degrade you like that in an interview, there are biased ignorant people out there, dont put up with it you dont want to work for someone like that anyway. That is NOT legal, and their HR would have a field day with that. There are some awesome companies out there, go find 'em.
  Author: original poster Mar 06, 2007, 05:15PM
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   Thanks, that is great advice. I actually got right to the finish line with Ethicon and lost that one too...and it wasn't a woman that I was up against. (could have been coincidence)

I have trouble at knowing when to play up/down my feminity.
At first I was pulling my hair back and wearing almost no make-up. Weird thing is I got farther when I played it up a bit (hair down, a little more make-up) but that could have been completely coincidental too.

Regardless I always dress conservatively. I have really improved my interviewing skills dramatically over the last 10 months and know that I could not have done anything better at the last interview. I was even told by the hiring manager that I had it all and that he was extremely impressed with me. So I felt completely blindsided when he chose the male candidate who I know (from an insider in the company) was less qualified than I was.

That was the reason for my original post, I was just confused and looking for advice on how to counter this the next time.


I think at this point it's just a waiting game.
  Author: Female QA Director Mar 06, 2007, 01:29PM
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   In a current job search myself, I too have found it difficult as a woman in a male dominated profession. In my career, I've observed some company cultures that embrace women executives, so try to find those in your area.

Perhaps try a women's device company like Ethicon/Gynecare, Ortho or Barr Labs.

Another bit of advice is to present yourself as ultra conservative. Try the blue/gray suit, moderate makeup,no perfume/nail polish, etc. to show you're serious, smart and capable of performing comparably to those male counterparts.

I've been experimenting with this myself over the last year and found that I have better results playing down my femininity. I also offer that I have no kids and can put in extra hours to achieve results. (Against the law for them to ask, but I figure this will rule out any reluctance for my being a woman).

After a discouraging year, I now have 2 offers to consider, so I now swear by the conservative route.

Good Luck!!
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Mar 06, 2007, 06:26AM
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   To answer your question, this could indeed be a coincidence. I, myself, am trying to break into the industry and have ended up very, very close to landing a job on a few occasions with no success yet. So it may not have anything to do with your gender. I think that it is very, very tough out there to land a position, and especially as a newcomer to the industry. Since you'll probably never know if it was a gender-based decision, then you might as well just assume that it wasn't and continue the search process. I know for myself (I might not have interviewed as well as you) that I need to improve my interview and presentation skills.

As far as the women are ____, men are ____ discussion - don't generalize about women being "catty" or whatever, or men being "insecure". Unfortunately, the playing ground is not level, and equally-qualified women have a harder time of finding a job, and earning the same pay. This is not as it should be. Both women and men can have substantial intellectual talents, and equal intellectual talents.

Just keep trying, and take a look again at how you interviewed. It could just be a question of experience, as well.
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Mar 05, 2007, 08:59PM
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   I think it's really not the problem of sex. It's more of the team's problem. Imagine you (a guy) trying to acquire a position in quality control (where women are the majority), you will have a hard time staying there unless you are a sissy guy. Similarly for women in a men-majority group (e.g., manufacturing). Some facts are simple - when the plant is on fire, guys can rush in to fight the fire or rescure trapped people, even a big scar is left on his face afterwards. But this is a luxury for women to bare.
I am not quite sure about the reason why women have gradually becoming the majority. However, I don't think this is because women are smarter than men. The reason is simple: how did our technology develop at the time when men were the majority in research? Did civilization actually stopped!!? No!
I do notice a trend - most low and mid level researchers are women, while the heads are mostly men. This really tells me that these baby-boomer leaders are afraid of losing their positions, they therefore use women as buffers from the threats of younger men. Our society haven't change completely so that a high social position woman can marry a man with lower social position than her without much criticism from her friends and family. This drastically reduce the numbers of marry people, and hence drastically reduce the struggles to sustain families. As the result? - their positions are much secured!
It's not anyone's fault - it's the trend of our society!

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  Author: The original poster Mar 05, 2007, 08:01PM
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   And to everyone else...

Thank you for your feedback; I appreciate the help!
  Author: The original poster Mar 05, 2007, 07:58PM
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   While it may be beyond the mental grasp of some of the people who responded to this post, I was not "munching sour grapes." I have made it to the top 2 five times since graduating 10 months ago. I am willing to do whatever I need to do to get into this industry. I know it's an incredibly difficult field to get into and I accept that wholeheartedly. I am not bitching, or complaining, I was asking for advice, since it seemed to be a bit coincidental that the scenario continued to play out in the same way time and time again. I HAVE continued to move forward and already have another interview set up, less than a week after losing the last job. I ONLY WANTED WORTHWHILE ADVICE.

"This is the reason guys get jobs...they don't bitch"

Thanks for the advice, I will take that incredibly enlightened point of view under advisement.
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Mar 05, 2007, 03:38PM
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   Most of the time, it's a matter of whether the hiring manager likes you (closing, presentation, etc being all same among candidates). Each Manager wants something specific going into an interview (even if it is all HOT blonds with long legs, men, frat boys, etc). Don't take rejection personally, because sometimes you are not in the "running" from the start. Certain companies will even interview many candidates to make it all look legit. There are also many companies that don't even want you too smart, because it's harder to brainwash. Yes, not all products are the best in this competitive industry - although take caution in mentioning it to some of the Kool-aid drinkers out and about. Good Luck and keep your head up.
  Author: am there and been there too Mar 05, 2007, 02:45PM
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   quoted from Susan's post:
"I am here at home with no job due to the female cats out there. They whisper, harbor knowledge, want to see you fall, etc."
Unfortunately, this is soooo true!!

To the other poster who replied to the woman hater; women are catty because they're INSECURE about themselves. There isn't a place of employment on this earth without a catty woman wanting to exercise her claws. It's really very, very sad! That type of mentality is so aggravating to have to put up with in the workplace much less anywhere else!
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Mar 05, 2007, 02:12PM
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   First of all...the term "sexy" is a generic adjective that is used in the med device and pharma industry to describe the attractiveness of a job.

I have a background in both pharma and med devices...pharma is considered more "sexy" because there is less grunt work than med device sales.

Instead of being offended and munching sour grapes...look into the comment. The hiring manager is telling you that you don't have the expereince or chops for a med device job and that pharma might be the right place to start.

For better or device sales are still a male bastion because the job is considered both physically and mentally hard. Women in the pharm industry have made a bad reputation for all women in med sales. Most female pharma reps are preening, pretentious, Barbie doll clones with questionable work ethics (I was a pharma DM for 4 years). Unfortunately this is the dominant view so you'll have to show real ACCOMPLISHMENTS to get hired.

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  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Mar 05, 2007, 05:13AM
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   Don't give up though it would be hard getting into device sales without any sales experience. Get some B2B sales experience then try to get into device. That is what I did. I am now getting into my 2nd device job after being at my first for three years. I did not feel slighted at all as long as you have good statistics to show. And always save your stats for your brag book. Some interviewers want to see them.

I do know that pharma does hire less experience candidates because they feel they can train. But do remember, it is harder to switch fields and vice a versa.
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Mar 04, 2007, 01:28PM
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   To the woman hater: I have been in this industry for ten years. And men stick together because of insecurity. In my experience, most of the women have higher educational levels, work harder and achieve more. The industry is very subjective and men will support eachother. The myth that women should get paid less because they work less is completely false. The women work much harder and constantly have to prove themselves. Men cannot handle the fact that women are equal or better. INSECURE!!
  Author: justme Mar 04, 2007, 09:44AM
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   I have been in the HealthCare industry for over 16 years which includes Medical Device sales and most recently, nearly 2 years as a Specialty Rep - Big Pharma. One thing I can tell you, its tough no matter what business suit you wear ......skirt/blouse/blazer or double-breasted suit! Also, I have been the "first alternate" for several Big & Mid-size Pharma companies...and with all 4 of them, I was passed over for an "Internal Candidate," so don't beat yourself up too bad if your not offered the position.

That being said, as one who was Downsized from Big Pharma the end of last year, as were colleagues/friends from Pfizer, JnJ, AstraZeneca, IF you are still on the inside (Pharma or Medical) it may be wise to turn the other cheek again, role your sleeves up one more turn, and hang on to what you've got. Unless you are fortunate enough to already have an offer from your KEY CAREER CHOICE may want to stay put one more year, until things die down again...until the waves are calm in the turbulent sea of Pharma/Medical sales.

Just saying.

One more thing I can pass on from a Recruiter's feedback to me, be sure of what you want a long-term career in, either Pharma or Medical sales, 'cause it don't look good on a resume' "hoping the fence back and forth too many times."
  Author: Susan Mar 04, 2007, 11:24AM
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   I'm sorry, I have to laugh!! I would work with guys 100% of the time, if I could. I am here at home with no job due to the female cats out there. I also am turning 60 so I have age as another problem. BUT the women out there are a mess! They whisper, harbor knowledge, want to see you fall, etc. I really need a job and now my name is tarnished to say the least. Men are great, they take it and brush it off and move on.
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Mar 03, 2007, 05:18PM
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   This is the reason guys get jobs...they don't bitch.
if they get beat out, they move on a prepare for the next one. Grow up!! You are owed NOTHING!!!

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  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Mar 03, 2007, 02:27PM
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   I forgot to mention that I have been doing sales for the last three years for a recruitment company (prospecting, cold-calling, territory management). So while I am right out of college, I do have experience selling.

Whether or not it was illegal, is beside the point...I couldn't care less! He did tell me that I couldn't possibly have done anything more to sell him. He just made a choice with two equal candidates. (so what made the difference if we were equal?).

Anyhow thank you to the first and last person who responded. I just wanted advice, not a debate on whether gender bias exists in this industry (from the other respondent). Thank you!
  Author: former job seeker Mar 03, 2007, 01:46PM
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   you better believe that it's alive and well out there, but keep it up. If you're good enough to make it to the final 2, something will give for you. I was in the same boat. I looked for 18 mths until the right thing came along. I made it to the final 2 at least 3 times before I got the offer. Funny thing is, I am with one of the top ortho device companies out there. The employment is 90% men. One of the guys actually told me that it was like being in a fraternity. What did I do to finally get the job? I quite playing it close to the sleeve and went for it. I let them know that I wouldn't back down regardless of what a doc did or said and I had specific examples to share as to what I had done in past circumstances when faced with a challenge.

good luck and may the best candidate win!
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Mar 03, 2007, 12:21PM
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   That is not illegal. He was stating that the pharmaceuticals were sexy, not you.

Medical sales is one of the hardest occupations to break into (especially right out of college) and you need to shug off the last three interviews and move forward.

Treat interviews like you do a sale. The three candidates you were up against sold their interviewers you did not. What can you do better next time?
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Mar 03, 2007, 10:57AM
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   Thank you for understanding. Yes, it's very illegal, but I'm not willing to blacklist myself by calling them out on it. I'm so angry about the last job (was 2 days ago) but understand that I just have to get over it and keep going. In college, I guess I was just ignorant to the fact that this sort of thing still goes on. VERY frustrating, but I believe that I have what it takes, so I'm going to keep going for it.
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Mar 03, 2007, 10:10AM
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   I have been in the pharma world for about 10 years and have seen such junk as you are talking about. I have no clue what you should do. I am unemployed at the moment and am having trouble getting back into pharma. It's a tough world out there. Good luck. I can't believe they say those things to you. Carry a portable tape player...isn't that sex talk illegal?

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